How and why I stay positive living in constant pain when my surgery failed. Includes pictures, fusion hardware.
Rules I've learned about living in chronic pain.
Several years ago, seems like eternity now, I was the most active person I knew. Ironically I was working with the only person I’d ever met in my life that could physically outperform me but I’ll leave that for another time. I raced throughout each and every day, working hard and playing even harder. Lazy or sedentary were terms that never would have been attached to my name. Four spinal surgeries later I can only support the weight of my own head for an hour or so before the pain levels are practically intolerable.
I continually attempted to return to work after each of my surgeries. Made it for almost three years after the first, less than a month on several attempts following the second, and unfortunately never since the last one. I’ve had more than a few radiology technicians state,
“I have never seen as much hardware as what is in your neck.”
Some of them work at VA which says a lot in itself. Those statements continue even after having had two rods and a dozen screws removed from the back of my neck. That was quite shocking to me as you can probably imagine. I still have a cage, some plates, and a lot of screws remaining. What I’ve written thus far was only to establish that I do in fact have some personal experience with chronic pain.
When this all began I received an immense amount of help, sympathy, and attention. Not that I was l actively seeking any of them, it is just the normal reaction from people when something like this happens. I am very lucky to have the support I do from my wife, my daughter, and my parents as I can’t say with certainty I would have chosen not to end my life a long time ago.
The most important thing I have learned is to never complain, or at least complain as little as is possible. People can see for themselves when anyone is in a great deal of pain. Nobody needs to be reminded as this does not benefit yourself or others. I continue to accomplish as much as I physically can and call it good.
I think the next most important thing I do is to never feel sorry for yourself. I remind myself that there are people everywhere that are in much worse situations and even in more pain. I am a veteran and I am disabled but that is not to say I am a disabled veteran. There are many young men and women coming home missing limbs, as well there are many people in burn centers no doubt living daily nightmares of unimaginable pain levels. It is highly unlikely that you are in more pain than anyone else on the planet. I think it is wise to remember this.
I can’t speak for the helpfulness of psychology or psychiatry although I believe that either one would probably be a definite asset. A medical review board from the Social Security sent me for an evaluation with a psychiatrist several months ago. I enjoyed speaking with this doctor very much but as he was hired by the Social Security Administration it would not be allowed or ethical for him to see me on a professional basis. He did however ask me to return, off the record just as a friend, and let me know how things are progressing. That was a very nice gesture.
Anyway that is all I have for today in summation my advice is as follows:
Don’t complain or whine and always remember there are many people in worse situations thus you should never feel sorry for yourself. Also regardless of what any doctor may tell you, don’t ever give up hope.